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How to Make the Most of Grey Days


You can’t change the wind, but you can adjust your sails

Living in Ireland, an island constantly at the mercy of Atlantic weather fronts, I am used to dull grey days, flat light and rain! I often envy those photographers who seem to be fairly certain that they can rise early to a stunning sunrise or who are constantly treated to an amazingly colourful sunset.

Yet if I waited for those conditions I would seldom be out with my camera, so I have learned to make the most of grey days and I have a number of strategies at the ready to make the most of those less desirable photography conditions.

1        MINDSET

I think mindset is one of the first considerations. It’s important to accept what we can’t change, and none of us can change the weather. But you can use conditions to your advantage. Dull, grey days can produce moody, atmospheric images. Setting a subject against the background of a dark, dramatic sky can produce a successful image and often suits the scene better than capturing the same subject on a bright day.

Explore, experiment, employ some creative techniques, and you will meet the challenge of grey days.

2        TRY B&W

I love black and white photography and while it does benefit from the contrast provided by good light conditions, the act of removing colour from an image is also a great way to make the most of more dreary conditions.

I like to think in black and white on a dull day so that I am still looking for good contrast, as not all scenes will make for good black and white images. Some photographers like to capture their image in colour then convert to black and white. I often do this although I prefer to use the monochrome setting on my camera so that I can see the image in black and white at the time of capture.

3        GET CLOSER


I like to do close-up photography at any time, so I often take advantage of dull days to photograph macro or close-up images. Dull conditions often favour macro as there are no harsh shadows to contend with and the cloudy sky provides a kind of softbox to enhance our macro images.

When the sky is dull and featureless another option is to leave it out altogether. This can be a time to focus on smaller details in the environment rather than on wider vistas. Leaves, tree bark, human-made environmental features, buildings, parts of objects, all make good subjects at any time, and they are well suited to grey days.




So called 'bad' weather, such as light rain, fog and mist, tends to simplify the landscape through reducing visibility. Subjects become isolated from their background; smaller details become blurred and stronger details become more prominent. The landscape becomes naturally de-cluttered, and this can produce unusual, often mysterious images. I love to capture a tree, a lamp post, a pole or even a lone person in the mist.




Elements of the environment such as fences, bridges and paths can take on a spooky feel when captured on a foggy day, compared to what they would normally have. Dark, dramatic skies can appear menacing and can often form the main part of an otherwise simple scene.

If you like minimalist photography then overcast weather, with its soft light and low contrast, can allow you to produce simple images. Subjects at the coast such as piers, posts, groynes and boulders work well for this type of photography.

5        SLOW DOWN

This point is closely related to the one above in that by using an ND filter and a long exposure you can produce beautiful fine art images. I love to view this type of image but have yet to be successful in producing them myself, so this is an area which holds a lot of potential growth for me and which I am looking forward to developing further.


The aftermath of a rain shower can be a great opportunity to find some interesting reflections. Surfaces such as parked cars, puddles and wet roads can throw up the potential for successful images, while raindrops often reflect the colours around them and make great abstract photography subjects.



As I said at the outset, if I had to wait for ideal photography conditions I wouldn’t get out with my camera very often. Instead of bemoaning the conditions I believe that the secret to enjoying photography, even on grey days, is to embrace the conditions as they are and see the positives and potential they offer. Instead of feeling that I am having to make do with second best I have learned to adjust my sails. I try to match my photography to the conditions that I have to work with and enjoy the results I can produce.


Dull weather can be mysterious, dramatic, moody, atmospheric and full of character, which is not always true of sunny days. Sometimes, the results of grey day photography are better than those of sunny day photography and that is something to be celebrated.

So, next time you are treated to a grey day, get out with your camera and try out some of the techniques mentioned above.

You won’t be disappointed!


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